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Serena Williams foot fault: What did she say and why?

Meltdowns are a part of tennis, but foot-fault calls – especially on crucial points – seem to drive players over the edge.

A line judge leaves her chair to report an argument with Serena Williams, left, of the United States, during her match against Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, on Saturday.

Darron Cummings/AP

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Serena Williams's spectacular meltdown in the semifinal of the US Open Saturday reinforces one truism of modern tennis: nothing infuriates players quite as much as the foot fault call.

Battered and reeling in a match against Kim Clijsters, Williams was called for a foot fault on a second serve at 15-30, 5-6 in the second set. The call gave Clijsters two match points, and so incensed Williams that she began a tirade worthy of tennis's four-letter king, John McEnroe.

(Do you remember: "You cannot be serious!")

Approaching the lineswoman who made the call, shaking her racket and pointing, Williams said: "I'm going to shove this [expletive] ball down your [expletive] throat," according to CBSsports.com.

SI.com writer S.L. Price, who was in the press tribune 15 rows away, says he heard Williams say: "You better [expletive] be right."

(See a video of the entire incident here.)

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